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Sharon's Personal History

Sharon is a married mother of 4 children. Three sons named Tim, Tom, and Mitchell and a daughter named Tessa. Steve Hill, her husband, does beautiful carpentry work here in Ohio and in Washington D.C. His skills will come in handy around the restaurant as the building is 160 years old.

         While researching the origins of a structure in Grand River (Richmond) Ohio currently known as Brennan's Fish House we came across a 1957, 250 page, special edition of the Painesville Telegraph entitled "Welcome to the New Era". This New Era was the anticipation of the economic impact on the area caused by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. I personally recall this event and the flurry of optimistic speculation as to its impact on all of the Great Lakes ports. Unfortunately, nothing of substance happened here or elsewhere along the shores of Lake Erie aside from the introduction of the Zebra Mussel.   This starry eyed anticipation has repeated itself throughout the years is characterized in this location and to the business(es) that is now Brennan's Fish House.


The First New Era
In 1832 Thomas Richmond, a young New Yorker, got word of a terrific property bargain along the Grand River close to the harbor. Being a New Yorker familiar with the economic impact of the Erie Canal he quickly closed this property deal and subdivided it into lots and lobbied for his canal and a "New Era". Unfortunately for him Ohio politics got his canal dug in Cleveland and the Bank Crisis of 1837 left Tom broke. The population that had reached 200 quickly shrank to 0 and the church and the houses built there were either moved or cannibalized for their lumber.(1)


The Second New Era
In 1889 Frank Jerome a [whee/er-dealeij land speculator got wind of the impending extension of the B & 0 Railroad through Richmond (Grand River) to Fairport Harbor and the impending construction of two large warehouses and a grain elevator near River Street.(2)

He quickly bought up every piece of then "worthless property" including lot #32 on which a hotel would stand for pennies on the dollar. Henrietta Hendrickson sold lot #32 and three other lots that she had inherited for $800. Frank quickly resold lot #32 alone for $1450 to August Wolff who in turn resold it to Otto Guetschow for the same $1450. It would seem that August Wolff was either a contractor or a frontman for Otto Guetschow. One of the deed witnesses was W.M. Sullivan who probably owned or managed the infamous Sullivan's Saloon operating out of the hotel.(3)


In 1890 Otto apparently bought into this New Era concept because he erected the Grand River Hotel on lot #32 which included a saloon and eventually a barbershop. The anticipated "boom" turned into a "fizzle" and the hotel served mainly as a saloon and "House of Ill Repute" for the warehousemen, railroad employees, fisherman and fish packers working there. This had to be a "tough area" with a clientele like this.  

Maps from 1892 show the Grand River Hotel and many neighboring saloons. By 1904 business had fallen off leaving only the Grand River Hotel, 1 competitive saloon, a fish net store, 1 fish company, a town hall and a jail.

Otto lost the Grand River Hotel in 1902 through foreclosure on non-repayment of a loan that had the hotel as the security. The foreclosure suit asked for $6984.25. It was sold to Louis Seelbach for $5000. (Over $142,000 and $102,000 respectively in 2006 dollars 4).